Inquest held in Dublin for Brendan Megraw who ‘Disappeared’ in 1978

11th December 2015

Kiaran Megraw, Deirdre Carnegie and Sean Megraw outside the Coroner’s Court in Dublin where inquest into the death of their brother Brendan Megraw was heard. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Brendan Megraw, one of the IRA disappeared, died of a gunshot wound to the head fired at close range, an inquest into his death has heard.

He was abducted from his Belfast home on April 8th1978 and shot either on that date or immediately after it, Dublin Coroner’s Court was told.

The body of the 22-year-old was recovered at the edge of a peat bog at Oristown, near Kells, Co Meath on October 1st, 2014.

It was found bent over at the waist with ankles crossed one metre below the surface of the bog, State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said.

Asked if the gun was fired at close range, Dr Cassidy said it was difficult to be precise due to the length of time that had passed.

“Given the path of the bullet through the head, it’s most likely it was close range if not contact,” she said.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

In her deposition, Mr Megraw’s widow Marie told how the couple had married in 1977. She was pregnant with their first child when she answered a knock on the door of their flat at Stewardstown House, Twinbrook in Belfast on the morning of April 8th, 1978.

“I could see one person standing there through the frosted glass,” she said. When she opened the door, nine men pushed past her into the flat wearing stocking masks and surgical gloves. They injected her with an unknown substance they said would calm her and tied her hands and feet. They said he had stolen a TV and cassettes, she said.

When Mr Megraw returned he said he had nothing to hide.

“Brendan gave me a kiss and they left,” she said in her deposition. There was discussion among the family about what to do next.

“The story was that he would be back and not to contact police,” Kieran Megraw, a brother of the deceased, said.

The family went to the police but the first confirmation that Brendan Megraw was dead came in March 1999 when he appeared on the IRA’s list of the disappeared. His brother had a passion for motorcycles and cars, Kieran Megraw said, and to his knowledge, had nothing to do with the IRA.

John Hill, a senior investigator with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) said ‘refined information’ had led to the discovery of the body following two previous searches of the bog. “New information was revealed to us in 2014 which made it appropriate we should return,” he said.

The body was uncovered during preparatory drainage works to the search site and identified using DNA samples, Mr Hill said.

After 36 years in a shallow grave, Mr Megraw was laid to rest in Co Antrim on November 14th, 2014. Sean Megraw, his brother, said the family was comforted their brother was ‘resting with his parents and not in a cold boggy grave.’

“We have a place to pray,” he said.

Speaking after the inquest, family members called on those with information to end ‘the agony’ of other families who still did not know where their loved ones are buried.

“Please come forward, don’t prolong the agony for any of the families. All of us with disappeared, I don’t think we will be satisfied until the last person is located. We are not looking for people to be brought to book, we just want to have the bodies recovered and end the story,” Sean Megraw said.

Kieran Megraw said hearing the circumstances of their brother’s final moments had been “traumatic”. He said their mother Bridget, present at the first search of the bog in 1999, had died not knowing where her son was buried.